Mogamat Alexander and DAK Netwerk receive R40 000 in prizes; Hein Willemse delivers memorial lecture
The Afrikaans Language Museum and Monument (ATM) is pleased to announce that heritage activist Mogamat Alexander and empowerment organisation DAK Netwerk are the 2022 winners of the fifth Neville Alexander prestige awards for the advancement of Afrikaans. Alexander (1936-2012) was an award-winning linguist, activist, educationalist and academic who campaigned strongly for multilingualism and mother tongue education in South Africa.
The prizes, worth R40 000 in total and sponsored by Naspers, were presented on Saturday, 15 October, during a gala event at the Pearl Mountain estate in Paarl by the chair of the ATM board, adv Jean Meiring. This followed the widely recognised Afrikaans expert Prof Hein Willemse’s Neville Alexander memorial lecture in which he highlighted Alexander’s role and contribution in today’s context. Willemse, the editor of Achmat Davids’ Die Afrikaans van die Kaapse Moslems, also discussed the contribution of Arabic Afrikaans to the development and revival of Afrikaans, after which the guests could ask questions and make comments. Read the complete lecture here.
According to Michael Jonas, director of the ATM, these honours are an attempt to give recognition to the unsung heroes of Afrikaans and to promote language projects. “This year’s choices were even more difficult than before, because we really had outstanding entries. We thank all those who were nominated for their selfless work to promote Afrikaans; it is being noticed. Keep it up.”
Alexander, who was nominated by Fatima Allie, was specifically singled out for his book, Dictionary of Loanwords in the Cape Muslim Vernacular, which was published this year after years of collecting typical words and expressions of Muslim Afrikaans. This publication, which has received a lot of media attention, focuses on the language culture, idiomatic expressions and written Arabic Afrikaans that accompany the words. “The purpose of the book is to instil pride in the Cape Muslims for our inherited version of Afrikaans,” he said. “And that we should not see it as a mispronounced version of the later created Standard Afrikaans. The rich vocabulary is thanks to all the Malay and Arabic loanwords as well as self-created Afrikaans words that Cape Muslims inherited from their African-born ancestors.” According to him, Afrikaans “is also our language. If our Cape Malay Afrikaans ever dies out, then a part of us dies.” His popular blog has already received more than 160,000 views from around the world, and his suggestions on how to write specific Afrikaans sounds using the Arabic script are increasingly supported.
DAK Netwerk’s name refers to three language-proficient Khoi leaders who are symbolic of the wider Afrikaans community’s origin and heritage, namely Doman-Nomoa, Autshumao and Krotoa. In the past three years, the organisation has particularly focused on the recognition of Afrikaans as an indigenous language as well as a language of education, among other things through successful protest actions in Pretoria. This year they also reached an agreement with Stellenbosch University to address the low percentage of brown students at the institution. Furthermore, DAK Netwerk is regularly consulted by the media on issues that specifically affect disadvantaged Afrikaans communities, and they offer Afrikaans youth conferences for high school students as well as an Afrikaans teachers’ conference. “We also focus on workable ways to address the underachievement and poor performance in science and mathematics in rural Afrikaans schools by means of programmes with experts,” said the organisation’s executive chair, Danie van Wyk, who received the prize on their behalf. “DAK Netwerk has also published an Afrikaans publication, Vir hulle wat na ons kom, and poetry collection, Agt poëte, in 2021. A follow-up publication will appear next month in which several authors from the community will participate. They will then share their ‘origin stories’ with the readers.”
The winners receive a certificate and prize money for the benefit of relevant language projects. Other previous winners include Gaireyah Fredericks, the Stigting vir die Bemagtiging deur Afrikaans, prof Michael le Cordeur, Suzie Matlhola, Ernest Loth, the Faculty of Education of the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (Wellington), Sabina Dumas, Susan Smith, Elizabeth Dennise van Schalkwyk and Woorde Open Wêrelde.
More photos of the event and information about the winners at taalmonument.co.za, more about Dak Netwerk at daknetwerk.com and more about Alexander’s book at www.youtube.com/watch?v=An2hwyVi6S4, an insert from kykNET & Kie.
• For more information on all the other exciting events, concerts and courses at the Taalmonument, call 021 872 3441/863 0543, visit www.taalmonument.co.za or follow them on Facebook. The website also offers virtual tours of the monument and museum, information in six languages on the symbolism of the Taalmonument as well as many interesting articles on Afrikaans, multilingualism and the institution’s past, present and future. There are also many resources for school and research projects. Annual permits are available at only R120 for individuals or R220 per family, which includes access to all Full Moon Picnics. The ATM Koffiehuis offers delicious food and beautiful views daily.